Research news

3D rendering of cellular growth
Professor Mary Spongberg
Professor Mary Spongberg Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability)

Research@Southern Cross University

Here we are, already past the middle of the year with some changes and many projects well underway, with more to be completed before the end of the year.

You’ll see that we’ve given our newsletter a refresh to enhance its appeal and readability, but rest assured that in each edition we’ll still be bringing you the information you’ll need about all things research-related at Southern Cross University.

I’d also like to remind you that this is a forum for celebrating the achievements of all of our colleagues throughout the University, so please send your stories (or story ideas) to us at so we can include them in future editions.

Best wishes,
Professor Mary Spongberg
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability)

Research Ethics and Integrity icon

Human Research Ethics news

In the last edition we farewelled our longstanding Chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), Emeritus Professor Colleen Cartwright, and welcomed Professor Liz Mackinlay as our new Committee Chair. You can read a little more about Professor Mackinlay, who chaired her first HREC meeting in May, further on in this section of Human Research Ethics news.

On the subject of ethics, the revised Human Research Ethics Low Risk Committee and process came into effect on Tuesday 1 August 2023, and the new review process will apply to all low risk applications submitted via IRMA from that date. The turnaround time for Committee review will be two weeks, and submission and meeting dates, together with other information on the new low risk process, will soon be updated on the website. You can send any queries to the Ethics Office at: in the first instance.

Just reminding all researchers working on projects with and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, that you must also follow the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (The AIATSIS Code). This Code, in parallel with the National Code, ensures such research follows a process of meaningful engagement and reciprocity between the researcher and the individuals and/or communities involved in the research. If you are interested in learning more about the Code, it is available at here.

We’d like to emphasise that the Code is intricately connected to frameworks governing the ethical conduct of research involving human participants, including the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. The AIATSIS Code outlines additional requirements aimed at realising the objectives of respect, reciprocity and recognition. Researchers are required to carefully consult the AIATSIS Code, along with the Code for Responsible Research and the National Statement, when applying for ethics approval to undertake research with and involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and concerns.

If you’d like to better understand your responsibilities under the AIATSIS Code or are involved in the supervision of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Higher Degree candidates, it’s important you sign up for AIATSIS Training and additional training around supervision. Please contact the Chair of the HREC, Professor Liz Mackinlay, in relation to this.

Professor Liz Mackinlay
Professor Liz Mackinlay

Meet Professor Liz Mackinlay – Chair of Southern Cross University’s Human Research Ethics Committee

With two PhDs to her credit (one in Music and one in Education), the Faculty of Education’s Director Higher Degrees Research, Professor Liz Mackinlay, has an extensive interdisciplinary background across the social sciences, but her real passion lies in ethics.

‘I’m really passionate about ensuring that the work we do with people has value both for our researchers and the people we work with’, she says. ‘Taking care of people in that process is the most important thing.’

Professor Mackinlay brings many years’ experience of working in ethics to her new position, with her former role with the University of Queensland involving working on both low- and high-risk ethics, reviewing the University’s human ethics and establishing a new Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) process, and serving first as Deputy Chair, then Chair, of the HREC.

‘In terms of ethics from a research perspective, I’m keen to make sure we consider ethics in the ways that we need to, and shift from a disabling, “tick-the-box” narrative to a process where we have a community of practice which is enabling,’ she says.

You can contact Professor Mackinlay at:

Research Ethics and Integrity icon

Research Ethics Committee meeting dates 2023

You can find the 2023 Human and Animal Research Ethics Committee meeting dates here.

If you’re planning to submit a Human or Animal Ethics application, please check the submission closing dates to ensure your application will be reviewed at the next meeting.

Submission closing dates for the next meetings are:

  • Human ethics: 28 August
  • Animal ethics: 4 September
Associate Professor Roslyn Prinsley
Associate Professor Roslyn Prinsley

Living Lab update

Living Lab Northern Rivers is a space where research and community come together to create the solutions that will allow our region to thrive in uncertainty.

It's all been happening down at the Living Lab recently, with not one but two significant events in as many weeks.

On Thursday 3 August the inaugural Living Lab Think Tank brought expertise from Southern Cross University and the University of Technology Sydney – its two founding universities – together with professional bodies, and state and local government agencies to look at how we can strengthen and embed circular economy strategies into flood reconstruction efforts on the Northern Rivers.

The Think Tank model responds to questions posed by those designing public policy and programs by inviting teams to come up with innovative solutions to our region’s waste challenges. From here, the Living Lab will be developing research and demonstration projects to foster infrastructure delivery and economic development, and to assist the region’s transition to a circular economy.

Thursday 10 August saw ANU’s Associate Professor Roslyn Prinsley, Head of Disaster Solutions at the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS), deliver a talk at the Living Lab on how the Institute, together with regional communities, is developing the first-ever Australian guidelines to integrate Nature-based Solutions into flood resilience.

The ability of Nature-based solutions (NbS) to address flood risk is receiving increasing global attention due to a growing understanding that current approaches to flood resilience and flood mitigation are not working – something we’re all too aware of in the Northern Rivers.

Associate Professor Prinsley’s address, which she concluded by answering attendees’ questions, was enthusiastically received, and provided a great deal of food for thought on this important sphere of research.

You can keep up with what’s going on at the Living Lab, including upcoming events, through their website.

Coffee researcher and scientist Dr Ben Liu in the research lab at the Lismore campus
SCU's Dr Ben Liu conducting coffee research

Research Impact Clusters update

The recent refresh of the Southern Cross University website has seen the advent of a vibrant, engaging Research webpage, where the Research Impact Clusters feature prominently. If you haven’t already, do check out the Harvest to Health, ZeroWaste, Reefs and Oceans and Catchments, Coast and Communities pages. They’re a great way for us to keep across – and to let the outside world know about – what’s going on with our Research Impact Clusters.

Close up view of training module on-screen
Mandatory Research Integrity training is live now

Mandatory Research Integrity training

A reminder that completing the Research Integrity training is mandatory for all researchers, and a prerequisite to submitting Grants and Ethics applications.

As such, your grant or ethics application will not proceed unless you have completed the training. You can find out more from the Research Integrity Training Guidelines and Research Integrity Training Guidelines for HDR Candidates and Supervisors.

The training takes approximately one hour to complete, and concludes with a 10-question quiz that you must score at least eight correct answers to pass (you can re-attempt if necessary). Certificates will be automatically generated and available for download on Blackboard once you have passed the quiz.

Complete the training

Here’s how:

  • log in to Blackboard
  • select ‘Research @Southern Cross University under the menu on the right-hand side underneath My Information and Workgroup Sites
  • select Research Integrityon the menu on the left-hand side to navigate to the training

You can find out more about Research Integrity here or, if you have any queries about the training, please email:

As you’d be aware, the field of research is never quiet or still – as evidenced by the number of activities and developments we have for you to read about here. I look forward to hearing more about your research achievements as the year rolls on, and to showcasing them in future newsletters.

Our Research, our people

SCU Team at Occupational Therapy conference
The SCU Team at the Occupational Therapy Australia’s 30th National Conference

Our OT team wows the Occupational Therapy Australia’s 30th National Conference

Southern Cross University’s team made quite a splash at the recent Occupational Therapy Australia 30th National Conference and Exhibition 2023 in Cairns.

The group was deftly led by the Faculty of Health’s Dr Kitty Foley (who also received the OTA Mid-Career Researcher Award at the event).

Highlights of the team’s contribution to the conference included:

  • two invited speakers (Danielle Bull and Charmaine Bernie)
  • facilitating a workshop on our Indigenous Health major (Vicki Tillott and Associate Professor Stuart Barlo - a packed session that saw people standing outside of the door in order to listen)
  • delivery of an ePoster Spotlight presentation (Lisa Couzens)
  • delivery of scientific panel presentation about neurodiverse affirming practice in occupational therapy (Dr Kitty Foley)
  • facilitating the OT career journeys in research and academia (Dr Kitty Foley)
  • co-authoring a paper on consumer involvement in curriculum design (Dr Michelle Bissett)

Congratulations to you all!





Associate Professor Chris Stevens and HDR student Gurpreet Singh
Associate Professor Chris Stevens and HDR student Gurpreet Singh

Synthetic turf in public spaces – more to it than meets the eye

Associate Professor Chris Stevens, the Faculty of Health’s Chair of Human Sciences, together with his HDR student Gurpreet Singh, were invited to contribute to the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer’s independent review of the design, use and impacts of synthetic turf in public spaces, which was released recently.

This review will inform future policy and decision-making on the use of synthetic turf in public spaces, which means Southern Cross University’s research is set to make a positive difference at government level.

You can access the final report here.

In another study, Chris and Gurpreet had a group of team sport athletes undertake interval running training sessions on both synthetic grass and natural grass on different days, measuring markers of heat stress such as core body temperature, skin temperature, sweat rate and heart rate to see if training on the different surfaces influenced physiological responses. And if you’re wondering – yes, it did!

Well done on all fronts, Chris and Gurpreet!

Australian Organ Donor Register promotional tile
Research impact in organ donation

ARC grant supports research into boosting organ donation

Southern Cross University’s Associate Professor Gail Moloney has secured $303,617 in Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects funding toward the project she’s leading with Professor Marie Hutchinson to increase awareness of organ donation and boost historically low registration rates in culturally diverse communities.

As multiple factors—including cultural and religious beliefs and other concerns about organ and tissue donation—affect registration, this project is not aimed at pushing organ and tissue donation among diverse communities. Rather, it seeks to encourage more people to officially register their organ donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register, which is crucial to next of kin honouring that decision when someone passes away.

The research aims to develop a model that can be both scaled and tailored to ensure equitable access to transplantation, influence policy, deliver substantial economic and health benefits and, most importantly, transform people’s lives.

Do you know someone who’s looking for a PhD scholarship in this area?

This project is offering a PhD scholarship at Southern Cross University—to find out more, please email

You can find out more about this important area of research here.

Cover image from
Cover illustration: Exploring education policy through newspapers and social media

Here’s The Book on education policy and media

Congratulations to the Faculty of Education’s Dr Aspa Baroutsis, whose recently-published book Exploring education policy through newspapers and social media, offers an original account of the media’s role in contemporary education policy-making.

In the book, Dr Baroutsis and her co-author consider how newspapers and social media influence policy processes and how media mediums are used in, and affect, education policy. They consider effects of the datafication and digitalisation of the social world, particularly for education, exploring media logics of practice and the reporting of education stories, such as those about school accountability and Australia’s performance in reading, mathematics, and science. They also look at the role of social media and digital activism in speaking back to policy.

Mona Andskog piloting a boat wearing a raincoat
Postgraduate student Mona Andskog researching seagrass beds

Not one, not two, but three awards from the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering

This year is going particularly well for the Faculty of Science and Engineering, with three of their postgraduate students—Ryan Felton, Mona Andskog and James Padilla Montalvo—receiving a Post Graduate Research Award (PGRA) from the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AISNE).

The Award is a Category 1 grant that provides an annual stipend for the duration of a student’s PhD, plus access to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) facility, and travel assistance to the facility.

Mona’s research question is: Does nutrient enrichment enhance the loss of old stored carbon in seagrass beds? She hypothesises that

elevated nutrient levels will stimulate higher primary production and respiration in seagrass beds, leading to the degradation of older carbon in seagrass sediments. To test this, she will date the dissolved carbon fluxes released from high nutrient and low nutrient seagrass bed using radiocarbon dating (an ANSTO area of expertise).

Having three students securing the Award in this prestigious and highly competitive scheme in the same year is a wonderful achievement. Sincere congratulations to Ryan, Mona and James!

Professor Andrew Rose, Academic Director of The ReCirculator, presenting at the recent OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
Faculty of Science and Engineering’s Professor Andrew Rose

Opportunity Knocks … and The ReCirculator answers

Here’s the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s Professor Andrew Rose, Academic Director of The ReCirculator, presenting at the recent OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS - Innovate, Automate, Decarbonise, Digitise - Northern Rivers Future Proofing business event run by AusIndustry.

The event brought together local businesses, Government agencies, educational institutions and industry organisations to talk about opportunities for Northern Rivers businesses to future-proof their operations through business innovation, automation, decarbonisation (sustainability) and digitisation.

Researchers meeting at the Gold Coast campus
Chat informally with your colleagues about research challenges

What's Researcher Hour?

Southern Cross University’s Researcher Hour is a weekly drop-in session where researchers can chat informally with others about their research challenges and share solutions.

You can share research knowledge, research questions, discuss technology-related research issues and experiences – it’s up to you!

Researcher Hour is held over lunchtime (from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm) every Wednesday – you can join via this this link.

Digital Research Services, Technology Services and Library Services staff also attend the sessions to provide support to the participating researchers.

Looking forward to having you join us!

Graduate School update

Melissa Harvey
New Manager, Research Internships, Melissa Harvey

Welcome, Melissa!

The Graduate School recently welcomed Melissa Harvey as Manager, Research Internships.

Melissa will be developing, supporting and delivering internship placement opportunities for Higher Degree Research candidates (PhDs, Doctorates and Research Masters programs). Working with the Office of Engagement and Associate Deans of Research, she’ll build on existing partnerships with organisations that can provide internships for Higher Degree Research candidates, as well as developing new opportunities with other organisations.

Melissa comes to us from the University of South Australia, where she worked as a Partner Engagement Manager. In this role she identified and developed early stage collaborative opportunities and building strategic partnerships for UniSA Business Academics and the University as a whole.

You can contact Melissa by emailing or calling her on (02) 6620 3234.

Close up view of plant specimen and microscope
Training for domestic and international HDR students

Research Training Program Scholarship

The Research Training Program Scholarship round opened in mid-August – so we’d encourage all current honours students who are due to complete this year to apply.

This scholarship provides funding to support research training for both domestic and international higher degree research (HDR) candidates.

You can contact the Graduate School on to find out more, including how to apply.

Library news

Close up view of tardis-like phone box in front of a bookshelf
The Southern Cross Research Portal

Where will the Southern Cross Research Portal take you today? The Faculty of Health Librarians know!

The Southern Cross Research Portal is the place to connect your research with the world by creating opportunities for collaborations within and beyond Southern Cross University.

To improve your engagement, make sure your biography reflects your research areas and interests, and links your ORCiD, which will help to attract collaborators give your research a chance to be adapted or adopted—improving its reach and impact.

Lastly, don’t forget to upload your accepted manuscripts to the portal--potentially enabling you to reach a wider audience, increase your citations and eliminate the need to pay article processing fees (APC).

What’s not to love?

Close up on-screen view of steps diagram

Success with Systematic Reviews

Here is the Library’s newly-updated Systematic and Systematic-Style Reviews library guide – your roadmap to evidence-based excellence.

This guide steps you through the process – from starting, searching, managing results, and analysing results. It also outlines the support the library offers in this space with our updated service charter.

ANU crest on dark background
Australian National University’s ALIVE National Lived Experience Research Collective is running The Long Conversation project

You're wanted!

Australian National University wants to hear about your lived experience.

To get an accurate countrywide picture of lived experience research, the Australian National University’s ALIVE National Lived Experience Research Collective is running The Long Conversation project. This project aims to learn about lived experience mental health and suicide prevention research in Australia by exploring the widest possible range of people and work in this space.

The more input received into this crucial area of research, the better the outcomes for everyone, so why not complete the online survey, which focuses on roles and workplaces, and on any explicit models, frameworks or principles guiding everyday practice. This data will then be processed through peer-to-peer creative engagement, with potential for co-design and co-creation.

You can access the survey here, and you don’t have to give your name, so you can provide your answers candidly with full confidence.

Please email any questions to:

IFS logo
International Fertiliser Society's "The Brian Chambers International Award for Early Career Researchers in Crop Nutrition"

Calling all HDR students - are you eligible for the 2023 Brian Chambers International Award?

The International Fertiliser Society launched The Brian Chambers International Award for Early Career Researchers in Crop Nutrition in 2015 to recognise postgraduate researchers who can demonstrate how their work will provide practical benefits to farm crop nutrition. In its short history, this award scheme has grown in stature to attract entrants from 33 different countries around the world.

The Award offers:

  • first prize of £1,000, plus a webinar platform to highlight the winner’s research, plus five years free membership of the International Fertiliser Society
  • two runner-up prizes, each of £500, also with a webinar platform to highlight the winner’s research, plus five years free membership of the International Fertiliser Society
  • free membership of the Society for all entrants

Entries for this year’s Award will be accepted until 30 September 2023 and, if you’d like to find out more, you can click on this link.

Richard Stewart working at a laptop
PhD candidate Richard Stewart

Impactful publishing program

When you’ve done the hard yards and late nights to complete your research, you owe it to yourself to present your findings to best advantage and as wide an audience as possible.

Following last year’s successful run as a pilot program, the 12-week intensive Impactful publishing program will soon be back for a second year, to support ECRs and HDR candidates being published in Q1 (top 25%) journals – which is the best place for you, and everyone else, to find your work!

Here’s what two of last year’s participants have to say about the program’s benefits:

The Impactful publishing program was instrumental in preparing and refining my article for successful publication. It helped me to develop critical writing skills, of which abstracting and crafting claims of significance were particularly useful.

Equally as important, the program provided the structure within which I was able to commit to the development of the article and via which I could observe others experiencing, and indeed overcoming, the same issues I was confronting. I was inspired by other participants’ progress, and guided by the session leaders and the experiences they shared with us. I’m really grateful to all involved.

Richard Stewart
PhD(Law) Candidate
Faculty of Business, Law and Arts

Helen Clark
Student Ambassador, Helen Clark

I participated in the Impactful publishing program while undertaking Psychology Honours during 2022. The program provided an ideal environment to learn from experienced academics, exchange ideas and develop my communication and research skills. The facilitators were encouraging, flexible and responsive, while maintaining the intent and structure of the program.

As an early career researcher, I found the program very helpful in guiding me through the publication process, and it ultimately resulted my first publication.

Helen Clark
Student Ambassador
Office of Engagement

If you’d like to avail yourself of the benefits of the Impactful publishing program, keep an eye out in future newsletters for program dates and registration details.